Mismatches Vulnerable groups
Financing Supply subsidies Demand subsidies Sustainable development financing Public-private collaboration
Ownership and tenure Protection of social housing

Main objectives of the project

Emerging from the recognition that a significant portion of the population faced barriers in accessing traditional bank loans due to insufficient income and repayment capacity, the 'MAS OPENGELA' mechanism, combining public and private funds, provides loans with a 15-year repayment period. These loans aim to assist low-income households in fully financing home renovations. Additionally, OPENGELA facilitates coordination among neighbors for refurbishment projects and fosters dialogue among building owners to facilitate successful renovations.


  • 2019: En proceso


  • Constructor: Basque Government
  • Promotor: Bilbao Municipal Housing
  • Constructor: Bilbao/Bilbo municipality
  • Constructor: Eibar municipality
  • Basque Energy Agency (EVE)
  • Debegesa
  • Gabineteseis
  • Zabala innovation
  • GNE Finance
  • Housing Europe


Continent: Europe
City: Bilbao
Country/Region: Bilbao, Spain


In the 60s and 70s Spain build a large amount of social housing units. However, the vast majority of them were in a regime that after decades, the old tenant become the sole owner of the housing unit. Then, social housing stock has been reduced. As a result, all over Spain, low-income communities manage low-quality and old buildings in need of refurbishment, but without having the budget to tackle the deficiencies. The OPENGELA project wants to address this.

The main point of the project are their offices, working as One-Stop-Shops. Located in the neighbourhood of the refurbishment, in those offices, a multidisciplinary team helps the owners to manage their renovation. Basically, their work consists on, first, achieving an agreement among all the owners of the building to do the refurbishment. As condominium, to make the building accessible, there is a need on an agreement among the owners which is always risky and difficult when low-income people must do a financial effort to it. Secondly, the office guide the owners on how to access subsidies and financial help. All can be asked and managed from the office, reducing the inconveniences to residents.

OPENGELA serves as a prime example of a public-private partnership, comprising various public entities including the Basque Government, Basque Energy Agency (EVE), Bilbao Municipal Housing, and Debegesa, alongside two European-level organizations (FEDARENE and Housing Europe). The private sector is represented by three specialized firms: GNE Finance for financing, Gabineteseis for communication, and Zabala for European affairs. While Bilbao Municipal Housing and Debegesa have taken the lead on projects within the current setup, private partners such as GNE Finance and Zabala contribute expertise in novel financial instruments, as well as technical, social, and legal aspects to the consortium.

OPENGELA also offers financial support through MAS OPENGELA (Social Support System Fund) – a blend of public and private funds – which offers refundable loans in 15 years to help low-income households cover the investment needed to renovate their homes. This system helps residents cover 100% of the investment. The application process is streamlined: it not linked to life insurance, there is no cancellation fee, the payment deadline is up to 15 years and the nominal interest rate is 5.95% or 6.45% depending on the energy efficiency ambition. Moreover, the age limit was extended to access those loans. Now, access to them is up to 70 years old.

OPENGELA was first established by two pilot projects, one in Otxarkoaga (Bilbao) and the other in Txonta (Eibar). In the first case, work is done on five buildings encompassing 16 house numbers with a total of 240 homes. Other courses of action will also be undertaken from there, such as the refurbishment of the old shopping centre and the launch of business initiatives in premises which are currently empty. As for the case in Txonta, the pilot Project works on a total of 221 homes in 17 house numbers. The renovation will follow current standards of energy efficiency and accessibility. Te result is clear: more than 800 people have already benefit from the project. Furthermore, the financial solution has facilitated the uptake of building renovation in vulnerable areas without compromising the debt level of neighbours. On average, applicants allocate 26.20% of their income to cover debts with banks, which allows a low margin of debt to deal with financing. OPENGELA managed to mobilise private investment of 3.2 million €. Now the methodology is implemented in other locations.